AMHERSTBURG FREEEDOM MUSEUM
The Brown/Nelson Family History Part 1 – The Adopted Family
For this month’s family history, we are going to do something a bit different. Recently, the Museum received a kind donation from Jo-Anne and Remo Mancini who gave their donation in memory of a person of African descent named Fremont Nelson who lived in Amherstburg and Anderdon. This made us want to learn more about Fremont (sometimes spelt Freemont or Freemount) Nelson and his family. What makes this family history unique is that it combines the history of two families: The Nelson family (Fremont’s birth family from Ohio), but also the Brown family who adopted Fremont as a family member in Amherstburg. So, for this month’s family history, we will share the history of the Brown and Nelson families in connection with Fremont Nelson.
Although we could not find any documents that explained why Fremont was adopted into the Brown family, we can share the history of both families, along with their connections to Fremont. Let’s begin with Fremont’s adopted family: The Brown Family. According to notes from the Museum’s collection, John Daniel Brown was born in the US “on a plantation near Baltimore, Maryland” circa 1827. He escaped enslavement and settled in Anderdon in 1852-1853. Our records also indicate that Brown built a residence with the assistance of Nasa McCurdy in the winter of 1852-1853.
Also included in our records is an account from Fremont Nelson, describing the life and escape of John Brown which says “John D. Brown was a mulatto, his father being a white man and master of the plantation. His mother was a slave on the plantation. He was an inmate of the household and was brought up with a half-sister and a half-brother, children of his father’s white wife. Hard times induced his father to agree to his sale as a slave. His white half-sister overheard the bargain and informed John. The resolution was taken to attempt escape. His half-sister provided him with a purse of money, and gave him her own horse and John left in the night after the household had retired. He was missed in the morning as also the horse, and the half-brother made pursuit. Brown was caught up with by his half-brother, who first attempted to persuade him to return, and when John refused, he pulled out a pistol and threated to shoot him unless John gave up the horse and agreed to go back. They wrested for possession of the gun, which John succeeded in taking away from the half-brother, but in the act the pistol discharged and the half brother was shot and killed. John then made his way to the Detroit frontier and crossed into Canada.” A further note. Other references to this story state that John’s half-brother was stabbed rather than shot.
More details of John Daniel Brown’s life are provided in his detailed obituary which appeared in the Amherstburg Echo on March 30, 1906. It says “The death of John D. Brown, an aged and well known colored resident of this township, occurred with startling suddenness Friday last at noon. He and his son had been at Capt. Burns for a load of straw. He assisted with the loading and though exhibiting signs of fatigue no one was prepared for what followed. The son drove over a plowed field while Mr. Brown walked behind the wagon. He was seen to stumble and fall, and when his son reached his side he was gasping his last breath. He literally died in the harness. The remains were removed to his home near the quarry and preparations were made for the funeral which took place on Sunday afternoon. Mr. Brown was well known and highly respected and had been a substantial farmer in Anderdon for half a century, so that a large number turned out to the funeral. Upon arriving at Amherstburg, the cortege was met on Sandwich street by a large contingent from Lincoln Lodge No. 8, F.&A.M., of which the deceased had been a member for over fifty years, and under whose auspices the funeral was held. This lodge was accompanied by twenty-two members of Palestine Preceptory, Windsor, in full regalia, and the Windsor Masonic band, twenty strong, who together with a number of friends came down by special car. Preceded by the band, playing ‘Flowers of Hope’ and the dead march, the procession proceeded to the A.M.E. church where very impressive services were conducted by Rev. A Hackley, of Windsor, assisted by Rev. D.M. Lewis, pastor of the church. The altar, pulpit and choir gallery were all draped in deep mourning, and the choir augmented for the occasion sang appropriate hymns while Mrs. James Kirtley rendered ‘Some Sweet Day,’ very sympathetically. At the conclusion of the services due regard was shown their departed brother by the members of the Masonic bodies present. The remains were taken to Rose Hill cemetery for interment, the pallbearers being John Welsey, Philip Alexander, Leander Jones, Ezekiel Stevens, I. Ward and Simuel McDowell. John Daniel Brown was born in Baltimore, Maryland, 78 years ago and came to this country in 1853. Mr. Brown was married to Miss Sarah Chancellor, of Oberlin, Ohio, on the first day December, A.D. 1852, and after residing in Oberlin awhile came to this country and settled on the farm where his homestead now is, in the Township of Anderdon, residing there until his death. They had three children and an adopted son, namely, William R., who died in Cleveland, Ohio, on July 8th, 1897; John S.H. who resides on the adjoining farm; Sarah E., wife of James A. Nall, who resides in Amherstburg, and his adopted son Fremont Nelson, and these together with his widow, Mrs. Sarah Brown, and five grand children survive him. He was converted about the year 1865 and was a consistent Christian up to the time of his death. He was a member of the A.M.E. church, of Amherstburg, at the time of his decease. He was made a Mason in 1853 and was one of the strong supporters of that institution and endeavored by precept and example to inculcate into the minds of the younger members the true teachings and principles of the order. He was a member, and one of the Past Masters of Lincoln Lodge No. 8. A.F.&A.M., Amherstburg and at the time of his decease was the M. Ex. High Priest of Ebeneezer Chapter No. 4.; He was also a member of Damascus Commandry No. 4., all of the Province of Ontario. He was a Liberal in politics and subscribed for The Echo from its first issue.”
What we publish is not a complete history of any family and is based on the documents that are available. We welcome photos and information to fill in the gaps. See you next week for part 2.
The Brown/Nelson Family History Part 2 – Masonic Tradition
There was no obituary found for John D. Brown’s wife Sarah, but we do know that Sarah’s maiden name was Chancellor (some sources say Chandler), she was from Oberlin, Ohio, and was still living in 1912. Our records indicate that Sarah and John married on December 1, 1852. The couple had 3 children named William R., John S.H. and Sarah Elizabeth, in addition to their adopted son Fremont Nelson.
There was limited information for John and Sarah’s first child, William, but what we do know is that he passed away on July 8, 1897 in Cleveland, Ohio. There was more information for William’s brother John S.H. Brown who resided on the adjoining farm from his parents in Anderdon. According to John S.H.’s death record, his date of birth was October 3, 1858 in Malden and he became a farmer. John S.H. Brown married Fanny/Fannie Winnings of Colchester South on February 19, 1896. Fanny was the daughter of Edward Winnings and the 1881 Census for Colchester North lists Fanny as the daughter of Edward and Emily Winnings, along with her siblings named Daniel, Mary, and Robert. Under nationality, their family is listed as Scottish.
According to the Amherstburg Echo “At the residence of James A. Naul, Sandwich street, on Ash Wednesday evening, Rev. J.A. Holt officiating, John S.D. Brown, of Anderdon, was married to Miss Fanny Winnings. The nuptial knot was tied at 8 o’clock in the presence of about 30 relatives and friends of the contracting parties, after which all partook of a wedding supper. The next couple of hours was spent in social conversation, etc. The couple were the recipients of a number of useful and handsome presents. The groom is the son of John D. Brown, of Anderdon, and they will make their home for the present at the groom’s parents.”
The Amherstburg Echo prints more details about John S.H. in his 1923 obituary which says “John S.H. Brown, son of the late John Daniel and Sarah Brown, died at his home in Anderdon Tuesday, March 27th. He was born in Amherstburg 65 years ago. He was one of a family of three, the other two predeceasing him – William, who died in Cleveland some years ago, and Sarah E., Mrs. James A. Nall, who died in 1910. He was married to Miss Fannie Winning February 19th, 1896, and to the[sic] them were born five children – four boys and a girl who died in infancy. He leaves to mourn his loss his widowed mother, a wife and four sons: Theodore, William E., Richard H. and James A.; an adopted brother, Fremont E. Nelson and one niece, Margaret E. Nall, also a mother-in-law and a host of friends. He was a deacon in the Baptist church, also a member of Lincoln Lodge, No. 8 F.&A.M.” Being a member of the Masonic Lodge was a tradition that John S.H. continued from his father, John D., who was a member for over fifty years.
The 1901 Census lists John and Fanny as living with John’s parents (John D. and Sarah) and both Johns are listed as farmers. John S.H. and Fanny had four boys named Theodore, William, Richard, and James A., and a girl named Daisy who was born on February 6, 1889 in Anderdon, but she sadly passed away a few days later on February 12, 1899. Daisy’s brother Theodore was born on February 18, 1897 and he lived with his parents until at least 1921 because the Census for that year lists Theodore as residing with his parents while he worked as a labourer. The 1921 Census also lists Theodore’s brother William Everette as living with his parents John and Fanny, while he worked as a labourer. William E. was born on April 27, 1901 in Anderdon. William’s brother James Alfred was born on September 23, 1908, while James’ brother Richard was born in 1906. We were able to find a birth record for a child of John and Fanny, born on February 2, 1906, but no first name is listed. It is very likely that this birth record is for Richard, who according to the 1921 Census was born in 1906.
What we publish is not a complete history of any family and is based on the documents that are available. We welcome photos and information to fill in the gaps. See you next week for part 3.
The Brown/Nelson Family History Part 3 – The Great Lakes Chef and Local Baker
Now that we have discussed John and Sarah (Chancellor) Brown’s first two children (William R. and John S.H.), we’ll move forward by discussing their only daughter Sarah Elizabeth Brown who was born on September 6, 1861. Sarah Elizabeth married James Nall on April 18, 1888 in Amherstburg’s First Baptist Church and the ceremony was conducted by the Reverend J.A. Holt. According to the Amherstburg Echo, their wedding was the largest church wedding solemnized there considering “The Baptist Church in town was crowded, on Wednesday evening, on the occasion of the marriage of [James] Alfred Naul to Miss Sadie [Sarah Elizabeth] Brown, of Anderdon. The body of the church, the choir platform and the pulpit were all fully occupied to witness the important event.”
Sarah’s husband James Alfred Nall was the son of Alfred Nall and Ellen Foster, and he was born in Amherstburg on November 16, 1861. James lived in Amherstburg for almost his entire life, until he moved to Windsor on Church Street, a few years before he passed away in April 1920. In his early life, James was a chef on the Great Lakes and for a few years was a master chef on the flagship of the Northern Navigation Company. James also had a bakery on the corner of Seymore and Gore streets in Amherstburg. An article from April 1911 in the Amherstburg Echo says “James Naul turned out his first batch of bread in the Cox baker, corner Gore and Seymore streets, Saturday, since which he has been kept on the jump, for everyone who was treated to a loaf and realized how good it was, will not be happy without Baker Naul’s staff of life. He is also turning out a delicious line of cakes and other fancy cooking, which is growing in favor daily among particular customers. Mr. Naul expects to drive out foreign competition entirely by giving the public a better article than is being imported.”
In 1911, to gain more business, James had an ad printed in the Amherstburg Echo that said, “Ladies, give us 24 hours’ notice and we will supply your parties with lemon, strawberry, pineapple or frozen fruit sherbets packed in freezers in quantities to suit. James A Nall, baker and confectioner, corner Seymore and Gore streets.”
James was also a member of the Masonic lodge and according to a June 1904 article from the Amherstburg Echo, James “attended the great high Masonic meeting in Detroit, last week. He took the 32nd degree in Wolverine consistory and left Monday to take the position of chef on the C.P.R.” See Nall family history for more details https://amherstburgfreedom.org/family-histories/nall-family/ .
Sarah Brown and James Nall had two children: Margaret Ellen Louis who was born on March 9, 1897 and James Chancellor Nall who was born on June 24, 1892. Sadly, Sarah passed away in Amherstburg on September 18, 1910 due to heart and kidney issues. According to her obituary from the Amherstburg Echo “Mrs. James Nall passed peacefully away at her home on Sandwich street, Sunday night about 10:30. Though suffering for a year or two with kidney and hear trouble, it was not generally known that two weeks ago Thursday she was suddenly seized while eating dinner, and was confined to bed from that time. Mrs. Nall’s maiden name was Sarah Elizabeth Brown, and she was a daughter of the late John D. Brown, of Anderdon. Of a family of five only one brother, John H.S., and her aged mother are left in addition to Fremont Nelson, an adopted brother. She and Mr. Nall were married in the First Baptist church by the Rev. J.A. Holt in 1888, and their popularity was attested by the largest church wedding ever solemnized there. This popularity followed throughout her married life and she became endeared to a large number by her untiring devotion to the path of duty, her kindness and quiet work both in church and the Sabbath school. To Mr. and Mrs. Nall were born two children. John Chancellor and Margaret Ellen. The former died three years ago, and his death preyed on the mother so much that her health was broken. For several years the deceased had been a useful member of Ruth Chapter No. 4., of the Order of Eastern Star, and a Past Matron of the Chapter. Last month she was elected Royal Grand Matron of the Grand Chapter, O.E.S. of Ontario. The members of Ruth Chapter, O.E.S., had charge of the services both at the residence and at the First Baptist church, and were assisted by Mrs. Kelly, of Windsor, who by the death of Mrs. Nall becomes Royal Grand Matron for Ontario, and a large delegation from Windsor Chapter. There was a very large attendance of friends. Among those from out of town were: J.L. Hyatt, Mrs. Hyatt and daughter, Mrs. Dunn, Mrs. Odey, Mrs. Brooks, Mrs. Wm. Kenny, Mrs. Norrid, Mrs. C. Wilson, Miss Emma Weir, Gordon Nall and wife, Mrs. Dodson, Mrs. Mary McDowell, of Windsor; Wm. Jones and wife and Mrs. Bromley, of Sarnia; Mrs. Roman Smith and daughter, of Cleveland, O. The services were conducted by Rev. T. Jesse Henderson, assisted by Rev. E.E. Thompson, of Windsor, and Rev. A.W. Hackley, of the A.M.E. church, Amherstburg. The pallbearers were J.H. Alexander, Walter Anderson, Moses Brantford, F.H.A. Davis, William Jones and Aaron Saunders.”
Sarah was very devoted to her organizational work within and outside of the church. She acted as treasurer for the First Baptist Church in 1896, joined the Amherstburg Ladies Sewing Circle and the Amherstburg Guild (which stemmed from the Baptist Church), in addition to becoming a charter member and Royal Grand Matron of Amherstburg’s Ruth Chapter #4, Order of the Eastern Star. Her memorial described her as “a loyal supporter of … the societies of which she was identified.”
Following Sarah’s passing on September 18, 1910, James Nall moved to Windsor. A few years later, on February 26, 1913, he married Minnie Odey/O’Dey in Windsor. Minnie was a widow whose maiden name was Larter. Her parents were Milton, a farmer, and Docha (Warden) Larter. While living in Windsor, James worked in the dry-cleaning business and was a devout member of the church. He was also a Past Master of Amherstburg’s Lincoln Lodge (Masonic) and for years was a deacon of the Amherstburg First Baptist Church. After moving to Windsor, he became the chairman of the deacon’s board of the First Baptist Church in Windsor.
Sadly, James met an unfortunate end, and according to his obituary from April 1920 “James A. Nall, native of Amherstburg, where he lived from the time of his birth in 1861 until three years ago, died Saturday morning at his home on Church street, Windsor, after a stroke of apoplexy, and the treatment he received during his last few hours on earth through the mistake of the Windsor police was most distressing to his friends in Amherstburg, who had known him for many years as an upright Christian gentleman. It seems he was returning late Friday evening from a special revival of the First Baptist church of which he was a deacon, when he was seized with a stroke of paralysis. A mounted policeman reported the matter to the Windsor police who at once jumped to the conclusion that the man was intoxicated, and had him removed to the Windsor police station, where without attention he was left lying on the floor of one of the cells at night. His family made diligent search for him and it was not until early morning they found him in a dying condition there, and he passed away shortly after he was brought home. Mr. Nall was a son of the late Alfred Nall of Amherstburg, and of the family the following are living: Walter and Gordon, of Windsor; Forest, of St. Louis; Mrs. Theresa Stevens, George and Mrs. Hattie Lambert, of Cleveland; Mrs. Nora Baker, of Windsor; Mrs. Mattie Flenoy, of Detroit, and Mrs. Grace Odey, of Windsor. Early in life he became a chef on the Great Lakes and for some years was master chef on the flagship of the Northern Navigation Co., and on retiring conducted a bakery on the corner of Seymore and Gore streets, in Amherstburg. He was first married here to Sarah Brown, daughter of the late John S. Brown, and they had one daughter, Marguerite, who still resides in Amherstburg, and a son Chancellor, who died here about ten years ago. A few years ago, after his wife’s death, he took up his residence in Windsor, and was married there to Mrs. Odey, who survives him. He was interested there in a dry cleaning establishment on Church street. Mr. Nall was a devout church member and for years was deacon in the First Baptist church, Amherstburg, and up to the time of his death was chairman of the deacons’ board of the First Baptist church, Windsor. Many from Amherstburg and vicinity attended the funeral services which were conducted from the First Baptist church, Windsor, Monday afternoon, interment being in Windsor Grove cemetery. The funeral was under the auspices of Lincoln Lodge, No., 8 F&A.M., of Amherstburg of which deceased was a Past Master. They were assisted by North Star Lodge, No. 7, and North American Lodge, No. 11, and led by Lee’s band of Detroit, while Masonic honors were given at the grave. Mr. Nall was much interested in Masonry, was a Past High Priest of Ebenezer Chapter No. 4, R.A.M.; Past E.C, Damascus Commandery, No. 4; member Wolverine Consistery, No. 6; S.P.P.S, Morrocco Temple No. 13; N.M.S, Detroit’ and Victoria Chapter, No. 3, O.E.S., Windsor and Ruth Chapter O.E.S., Amherstburg. He was highly respected by all who knew him and there is general mourning over his sudden death.”
What we publish is not a complete history of any family and is based on the documents that are available. We welcome photos and information to fill in the gaps. See you next week for part 4.
The Brown/Nelson Family History Part 4 – The Adopted Son
As mentioned, the reason why we were inspired to write the Brown family history is because of their adopted son Fremont Nelson, so it is time to share information for Fremont and his birth family. Fremont was the son of James A. Nelson and Hester (sometimes listed as Esther) Ann Thompson who were married on January 10, 1870 in Wyandot, Ohio. One reference to Fremont’s parents states that James A. Nelson and Hester Ann Thompson had 23 children. We found information for nine children: William E., Fremont, Harvey, Mrs. William Foster (possibly Adella/Adelia), Sophia, Ophelia, John B., Parsend and Gracy Ann.
We will discuss Fremont last and begin with his brother William E. Nelson. William’s death record states that he was born on November 15, 1849 in Ohio and he passed away on March 17, 1916 in Fostoria, Seneca, Ohio. This record also shows that he was a labourer and married, but his wife’s name is not listed. The Amherstburg Echo mentions William’s passing in March 1916 stating “Freemont Nelson was called to Fostoria, Ohio, on Sunday, owing to the death of his brother, William E. Nelson, who died there that day, aged 67 years. He had been ailing for some time with Bright’s disease, but the end came very suddenly. He leaves a wife and three children. He was buried on Tuesday, the funeral taking place from the First Baptist church. He was one of twenty-three children born to the late James A. Nelson, and of these three brothers and three sisters are still living.”
According to the death record for William’s brother Harvey, he was born on August 23, 1883 in Upper Sandusky, Ohio, was single and worked as a “Hod Carrier.” Harvey passed away on January 2, 1917, at the age of 33 in Lima, Allen, Ohio.
Next is Harvey’s sister Mrs. William Foster who is referenced in the Amherstburg Echo when it said, “Freemont Nelson received a message on Monday of the death of his sister, Mrs. Wm. Foster, of Marion, Ohio.” While researching who this woman could be, a marriage record for Adella/Adelia Nelson who married William Foster on May 3, 1866 in Clinton, Ohio, was found. There were no other records that could confirm this, so we cannot say with 100% certainty that this is the correct Mrs. William Foster.
Also mentioned in this article is Fremont’s other sister Sophia Nelson who is mentioned as “seriously ill” in Detroit, Michigan. There was more information available for Sophia who married George Smith. The 1900 Census for Detroit lists Sophia Smith as aged 52, a housekeeper and widow. It mentions she was born circa July 1848 in Ohio, and also lists her children: Gertrude (age 25 and a Domestic), George (age 23 and a Teamster), Grace (age 20 and a Domestic), and Olah (age 17 and a Domestic).
No further information was found for Gertrude, but the death record for George Smith Jr. states that he was born on June 3, 1878 in Ohio, was single and died on December 9, 1937 in Detroit at the age of 59. George’s sister Grace, according to her death record, was born on March 10, 1882 in Toledo, was single and passed away on April 30, 1927 in Detroit. Grace’s sister Olah married twice. Her first marriage was to Fred. D. Brown, the son of William Brown and Dora Fallis. The couple married on October 15, 1902 and Fred worked as a Porter. Olah’s second marriage was to Daniel White, the son of Stephen and Louisa White, and they married on March 19, 1923 in Lucas, Ohio. This record also shares that Olah was born circa 1884.
Next is Ophelia Nelson, the next child of James A. Nelson and Hester Ann Thompson. She married John C. Collins. The 1900 Census for Pontiac Township, Michigan, which lists Ophelia A. Collins, states that she was born circa August 1844 in Ohio and married John circa 1863, also in Ohio. The Census also lists Ophelia’s husband John C. Collins and their children Ritta E. Collins and Charles E. Collins. Also listed is Eliza A. Peill? who is listed as John’s mother. The Census also records John’s occupation as a Wheel Maker. John and Ophelia also had a daughter named Eva Ophelia who sadly passed away in 1932 which is mentioned in the Amherstburg Echo which says “Freemont Nelson, chef Deerhead Inn, is attending the funeral Saturday at Ypsilanti, of his niece, Miss Eva Collins, who died there Wednesday. She is daughter of John and Ophelia (Nelson) Collins.” Her death record states that she was a widow and born on December 24, 1862 in Sandusky, Ohio.
The next child of James Nelson and Hester Thompson is John B. He married Nannie E. Williams who was born in Ashville, NC, and was the daughter of Alfred Williams and Metilda Hanson. John B. and Nannie E. married on July 18, 1918 in Seneca, Ohio. This record also mentions that John B. was born in Upper Sandusky, Ohio.
John B.’s sister Gracy Ann was born on August 10, 1871 in Salem Township, Wyandot, Ohio, while her brother Parsend was born on September 11, 1872 in Salem, Township, Wyandot, Ohio.
Now that we have discussed Fremont Nelson’s birth family, we will share details about Fremont’s life. He was born on July 27, 1877 in Salem Township, Wyandot, Ohio, and he later married Sarah Lavinia/Lovenia Robinson, the daughter of Susan N. Hawkins and William Robinson, on August 1, 1901 in Cuyahoga, Ohio. Their marriage record states that Fremont was a Cook and Sarah worked as a Domestic. Lovenia must have married a second time because her death record from July 16, 1947 lists her as Lovenia Butler and the daughter of Susie Hawkins and William Roberson (Robinson). Her death record also states that she was 71 years old and living in Hamtramck, Michigan.
According to Fremont Everett Nelson’s WWI Draft Registration Card, for his nearest relative it mentions his foster mother, Sarah Brown of Amherstburg. A few years later, we also see Fremont living with Sarah Brown as listed in the 1921 Census, along with Margaret Nall, the daughter of Sarah E. (Brown) and James Nall, who both sadly passed away.
His WWI Draft Registration Card also lists Fremont as a cook and his employer was Shenango Furnace Co. The Amherstburg Echo also mentions Fremont’s work as a cook. On December 16, 1905, the newspaper said, “Fremont Nelson will keep ship on the steam line of Hover & Mason at Duluth this winter.” Also, on December 17, 1909, it mentions that he was working for the steamer John Staunton and had returned to Amherstburg for the winter, while on December 28, 1928 it mentions he worked as a chef on the steamer Harry W. Croft. Decades later, another article titled “Given An Even Break The Atomic Will Again Win” mentions Fremont. This article discusses details of the Third Annual International Tugboat Race. The winner of this race was the tugboat called the “Atomic,” which defeated the “Patricia McQueen.” The Amherstburg Echo also shares details of the crew’s reception and says “Welcome Tugs – The reception was set for six o’clock and before the time hundreds had gathered at the Government Docks to welcome the Atomic. The afternoon had been a wet one and rain was threatening however this did not interfere with the welcome. At the dock were the South Essex Associated Boys’ Band, the Amherstburg Fire Department, the Amherstburg High School Cadet Band and a large group of citizens. Open cars were provided for the members of the crews of the Atomic and Patricia McQueen.”
The article continues by saying “Under the direction of C. Devere Thrasher, Marshall, the parade formed and its route followed north on Dalhousie Street to Richmond Street, east on Richmond to Sandwich Street and north on Sandwich Street to the town park where the ceremonies were held with F.T. Pickering as master-of-ceremonies. The loyalty of the citizens for the town to Captain McQueen and his associates was shown that in spite of a fairly heavy fall of rain all remained until the program had been finished. As a token of appreciation Captain McQueen was presented with a silver tray. The presentation was made by F.T. Pickering. The wives of the crew members of the Atomic were presented with flowers and the crew members of the Patricia McQueen received individual gifts as did Freemont Nelson, chef of the Atomic.”
Interestingly, Fremont also appears in an advertisement for Peninsular Ranges in the Amherstburg Echo. The ad says “The above list of happy patrons speaks for itself. The Range sells itself. – J. David Burk, Hardware and Stoves. Amherstburg.” Among those listed as happy patrons is Fremont Nelson.
Fremont was involved in several organizations in Amherstburg including a group called the Sunshine Society. On April 28, 1911, the Amherstburg Echo printed that “The scholars of the Baptist Sunday school have organized a Sunshine society with the following officers: – Pres., Freemont Nelson; vice-Pres., Mrs. J.H. Gant; Sec., Miss Azalia Kirtly; Assit. Sec., Miss Blanche Smith; Treasurer, Charles Jones. The object of the society is to look after the sick of the school.”
Fremont was also a member of the Lincoln Lodge, No. 8 A.F. & A.M. which was the Amherstburg chapter of the Prince Hall Masonic lodge of Free and Accepted Masons, which was the international Masonic order for Black Canadians and Americans. An important note. This separate lodge for Black Canadians and Americans existed because they were not accepted into white Masonic lodges. On January 11, 1901, the Amherstburg Echo shared the list of newly elected officers of the Lincoln Lodge which includes Fremont E. Nelson, along with others such as Henry Banks jr., Peter Stokes, Leonard Saunders and J.S.H. Brown. In 1923, Fremont is also mentioned as a member of Ebenezer Chapter No. 4, of the Holy Royal Arch Masons, which held their election of officers on March 27th of that year (1923). Among those elected and installed were “Comp. D.J. Holbert, H.P.; Comp. Leroy H. Banks, King; Comp. Alonzo Harris …… Comp. F.E. Nelson, G.M. of 3rd V.”
The following year, in 1924, Fremont Nelson is once again mentioned in connection to the Lincoln Lodge, which hosted a St. Valentine’s Ball. Details of this event are printed in the Amherstburg Echo which says “Lincoln Lodge, No. 8, F&A.M. annual entertainment in the form of a St. Valentine’s masquerade ball, was held on the 14th of February in the town hall, Amherstburg. Putting the facts mildly, to say the least, this was the most successful event of the season. Fun and merriment prevailed. About 200 persons took part in the entertainment. Lee’s orchestra outdid itself furnishing music up to the minute continuously from 8:30 to 5 o’clock. The prizes offered furnished quite a novelty, and were well received by the audience. The ladies’ first prize was won by Miss Dorothea Simpson, whose Pierrette or Ballet costume met with the approval of the judges … Geo. D. McCurdy was recipient of first gentlemen’s prize for the oddity of his costume … The judges were Rolan Austin, of Detroit; Mrs. Lucy Lynn and Mrs. Pearl Hulbert, of Ypsilanti, and Leroy N. McCurdy, of Conneaut, Ohio. It is only fair to mention that Mrs. Willard Maeirs was dressed as a gentleman entertainer, and that she was declared by everyone in attendance to be the cutest boy in the hall – a perfect dream. Among the out-of-town visitors were Mrs. Pearl Hulbert and Mrs. Lucy Lynn, of Ypsilanti, Mich.; Mrs. Elizabeth Saunders, of Ann Arbor; Leroy N. McCurdy, of Conneaut, Ohio; Dr.’s Thompson and Plummer, of Detroit; Dr.’s H.D. Taylor and W.C. Kelly, and others of Windsor. The many costumes were varied and distinctive. The committees in charge of deserving of great credit for the social event. It was the expressed desire of the out-of-town participants that entertainments of this nature be repeated semi-annually. The decorations were superb colored bunting entwined with the Union Jack and Stars and Stripes under the supervision of Henry Hall and his assistants. The committee is very thankful to the members of Rose Lodge, who so kindly left their decorations intact in the dance hall. Refreshments were amply served to the assemblage under the supervision of Freemount [sic] Nelson and William Hulm and their assistants. Nothing prevailed to mar the enjoyment of the merry-makers from beginning to end.”
What we publish is not a complete history of any family and is based on the documents that are available. We welcome photos and information to fill in the gaps. See you next week where we will celebrate another amazing family.